Category Archives: Detroit

A BBQed Prayer

Sometimes I write prayers…

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for this day. Thank you for bringing the sun up this morning. Thank you for waking us up this morning. Thank you for sharing this beautiful day you’ve made with us. Thank you for loving us enough to come down from heaven and be with us. Thank you for forgiving us for the terrible things we have done and keep doing out of our struggle and brokenness and unwilling selfishness. Thank you for choosing to reach out to us with your loving arms and welcoming us into your great embrace every day. Thank you for this food you’ve made and given to us. Thank you for the hunger pangs in our bellies right now that remind us of how much we need the food that you’ve given us. Thank you for adopting all of us who turn to you as sons and daughters. Thank you for creating around us, right here, right now, today and every Saturday and often throughout our days and weeks and lonely nights a loving family of adopted brothers and sisters. Together we get to be your sons and daughters. Your treasured little kids. Thank you Lord for adopting me, for forgiving me, for taking me in and making something beautiful out of the mess I’ve created with they life you’ve given me. Thank you Lord for your love.
Let it be so. Amen.

A homeless man’s prayer

I just finished an interview with CBS channel 62 at the new Elevate Detroit CommuniD BBQ park. I’ve got a cold. So on Facebook this morning I asked for prayers during the interview. While there a homeless man came and sat on one of the benches and said, “Hallelujah, thank you Lord for sitting on this bench.”

As I was leaving I waved at him and he waved back. I walked over to say hi. As I came close I could hear him talking, but couldn’t understand everything he was saying. Then he waved me off and said, “I can’t talk right now, I’m praying for you.”

My friends, you haven’t lived until you walk up and overhear a homeless man privately praying for protection and provision for you!

God is so amazing!

Thank you, Lord! I needed that today.

Bus fare

Last Saturday, at Elevate Detroit’s Detroit CommuniD BBQ, I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine. His name is Mike. Mike is extremely poor and almost homeless. I haven’t known Mike for long. We’ve been friends for only the last 2 months. In that time, I’ve learned he’s a father, grandpa and great grandpa. He and his wife are also followers of Jesus.

Mike asked me for bus fare. He said he needed $1.25 and that he’d “pay me back next week.” I happened to have 5 quarters in my car so I gave it to him. Mike’s wife asked me separately if I could bring him some new socks sometime.

Over the past week I posted on Facebook asking for donations for socks. Someone generously donated $50! So I went to Wal-Mart and bought as many socks as $50 would buy. We distributed all, but one package to people at today’s BBQ. I kept one package to give to Mike if I saw him.

About half way through Mike’s wife came over and said, “Mike is home today because he hurt himself, but he asked me to come and tell you he has something for you. Stop by and see him before you go.”

I went to Mike’s door at the end of the BBQ. I was greeted with a hearty hug and $2. (He had to remind me I’d given him any money.) I then handed him the package of socks (which he didn’t know his wife has asked for). What a fantastic thing!!

This is how we give through CommuniD BBQs! Not handouts to poor strangers or passersby… Sharing with friends as we’re able. There is such beauty in generosity! And as beautiful and awesome as it is for the relatively comfortable to share… It’s so much more beautiful when the poor are allowed to share too!!

Giving Back

Dynamite:

“Giving back means giving all; any inferior definition is pure deception. Our money, our resources, our gifts, our time, our dreams, our selfish ambitions, our comfort — these we give back in their entirety. Anything less is not discipleship at all. It is simply a clever substitution by a crafty enemy who has figured out how to use our own weaknesses against us, rocking us to complacent sleep with a consumer version of the gospel and knowing all the while he is making goats out of sheep.” – Brandon Hatmaker (Barefoot Church, pg. 113)

Boom.

No rain… Again!

Matthew 8:26 (NIV)

“He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”

Mark 4:39 (NIV)

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

So often I’ve read this passage and pictured that night out on the water.  I used to arrogantly and piously scoff at the disciples.  “Look how dumb they were.”  “How could they still not get it?!”  “How could they not understand that they were safe with him?!”

I’ve grown since then though… a little.  The verses just before this are Jesus teaching them how much it will cost them to follow him.  He tells them they will be homeless.  He tells them they will have to miss important, meaningful family moments.  He’s teaching them it will cost them their livelihoods, possibly their families and surely their plans.

He hasn’t given them any comfort.  And shortly thereafter, here they are… on a lake in a furious storm in a boat that’s about to be swamped.  They’ll drown.  Danger is all around.  And they run to him.  They wake him.  They beg him.

They don’t doubt his ability to save them like I used to think.  What they doubt is his awareness of the situation.  And they seem to have an idea of how he will save them when they ask.  I’m curious to know what they were expecting.  Maybe they were expecting him to raise the boat out of the water.  Maybe they expected the water to suddenly be held back from over the rails of the boat, similar to Moses crossing the Red Sea and God holding the water back.  Or maybe… they were expecting him to calm the storm.

Whatever their expectations of his actions, they were afraid.  Stressed.  Terrified.  And they were begging him for help.

In five years of CommuniD BBQs, I have no idea how many times God has calmed the storms for us.  I have seen clouds part, literally.  I have seen rain inexplicably surround a park without falling on it.  Twice.  Countless times we have seen and reaped the benefits of those words, “Quiet! Be still!”

Last Saturday.  It was raining.  The forecast called for heavier rain as the day went on.  No relief.  No hope of a break in the storm.  Just cold, miserable rain.  We had three CommuniD BBQs scheduled for the day; Detroit, Hazel Park and Southfield.  I got phone calls from all three leaders asking what to do, when to call it off, etc.  Three leaders who’ve watched these storms calm in the past with me all concerned, maybe even afraid that we’ll get rained out.  I talked them through it, encouraged them, reminded them of miracles of the past and God’s faithfulness in the present.  At the end of the day, all three events happened.  Not a drop of rain fell where it wasn’t supposed to.  Not an once of falling water was left to disrupt God’s plan for the day.  A miracle.  Again.  Amazing.

This Saturday.  It’s raining again.  It’s grey.  It’s cold.  It’s miserable weather.  The rain wasn’t supposed to let up until at least 4:00 pm.  It looked like it would linger on long past then.  We had two CommuniD BBQs scheduled for the day; Detroit and Pontiac.  I looked outside and thought, we might get rained out today.  Again, I got calls from leaders.  Again, anxious, nervous, expecting the rain to continue.  Again, I reassured them reminding them of God’s faithfulness in the past.  What they didn’t know was that this time, I was feeling the same way as they were.  I was nervous.  I was afraid.  I was grasping onto those memories with them.  I was needing the reminders every bit as much as they did.

With the shakiness in my soul of a one year old walking, in faith I continued to encourage them (and me).  I set out from living in Pontiac to drive to Detroit.  Wipers on.  Heat on.  Cold rain.  Answering calls, replying to texts and when no one else was asking me, I was still praying, hoping… no rain.  “Lord, I’m trusting you against my gut instinct of fear.  I will speak in confidence that you will again calm the storms; hoping you do.”

We are such forgetful people.  We are so quick to lose our faith.  We are so quick to be afraid.  And we run to him saying, “Lord, our event will drown!  Don’t you care?  Won’t you help us?  Aren’t you paying attention?”  I don’t think he was bothered that the disciples asked him for help.  They needed help.  What he rebukes them for is their fear and lack of faith.

I can scoff at their lack of faith all I want.  I mean, they could see Jesus right in front of them after all.  But I am every bit as deserving of that scoffing myself.  I may not yet have seen Jesus physically in front of me.  But I have seen the fruit of his words, “Quiet! Be still!” countless times.

So today… AND last week… God held back the clouds!!  In these last 2 Saturdays we’ve seen over 500 people share a meal together.  There have been 5 CommuniD BBQs in 4 locations with 14 partnering groups.  It’s been an incredible couple weeks!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen God work miracles with the weather on Saturday afternoons.  Five years and we’ve cancelled only 4.  That’s quite a track record of good weather!  And yet every time I can hardly believe it!  Our God still calms the storms!  And He creates space for His Body to form and love at a common table.

My God… YOU ARE AMAZING!!

No rain

This is the second weekend in a row where it was raining in the morning and they were calling for more rain throughout the day… and God held back the clouds!! In those 2 Saturdays we’ve seen over 500 people share a meal together at 5 #CommuniDBBQs in 4 locations with 14 partnering groups. Because our God still calls the storms… And creates space for His Body to form and love at a common table. My God… YOU ARE AMAZING!!

Easter in the Park

I have a friend. For this post, I’ll change his name. Let’s call him John. This is not because this post will be inflammatory by any stretch. It is simply because I haven’t asked him if I can share this story.

John is born and raised in Detroit. John is in his early 20s. John is on parole and he won’t tell me what for. John is homeless. Though he has family in the area, he can’t live with them. He often stays with friends so he doesn’t have to sleep on the streets. John runs drugs sometimes to make money. As a young, African-American felon on parole in Detroit, this is his only foreseeable option. No, it’s not a good thing to do. But I’d like to see you do something different in his situation.

John is smart. John is witty. John enjoys being the life of the party and revels in the spotlight. John loves reading Psalms and has several memorized. John also enjoys singing. On at least one occasion, John has led others (including myself) to the throne in singing worship at a CommuniD BBQ in Detroit.

The Saturday after last Easter.

I was at the CommuniD BBQ in Detroit. I was sitting with John and we were eating. I asked John if he did anything special for Easter; went to church, had dinner with his family, anything. This is what he told me,

“Well I worked Saturday night (which means he was running drugs). I got off about 8:00 Sunday morning. I knew it was Easter and that’s a really big day for churches. So I figured none of the churches would be here with people in the park. I had a pocket full of cash from working and nothing to do. So I went to the store, bought a loaf of bread, some ham and some mustard. And I came here to the park and made sandwiches for anyone who was here and we just kind of ate together.”

As he told me this, I was more than moved. I was speechless. I was thrilled for him. He was sharing with others as there was need. He was focused on others instead of himself. He was living out the call of Jesus in his life. Yes, he got the money from running drugs. But how many of us make our money from indulging and profiting off of the gluttony or materialism of others? This friend of mine was beginning to take steps in the way of Jesus and I was inspired by him.

Our conversation went on from there and was good. I’ve thought about that story and shared that story many times over the last year.

This past Saturday night I was in Charleston, SC. I was talking with a guy in his early 20s who has been dreaming of creating community like elevate Detroit and Micah 6 Community are. He’s never seen anything like what he’s been dreaming about. He’s never heard of it and he’s never heard of anyone else doing it. Needless to say, our conversation was a powerful one. He was thrilled, inspired and excited to learn of others doing similar things to what he’s been feeling called to create. It was inspiring and so encouraging to me to get to be a part of that with him.

I told him the story of my friend John that I shared above. And then I said, “You tell me. Who was more like Jesus that day? We, the church people worshipping God in our buildings with our worship services? Or the homeless drug runner that gave all he had to share what he could with others in need. Where was Jesus that morning?”

Then it hit me. Easter Sunday was right around the corner. And it was about to happen again. “I knew it was Easter and that’s a really big day for churches. So I figured none of the churches would be here with people in the park.”

Ouch.

And where would Jesus be?

Ouch.

And what were my plans for Easter?

Ouch.

So here’s the plan… Let’s not be the same church that worships a homeless man on Easter and neglects the homeless man we claim to be friends with and love.

This is not a CommuniD BBQ on Easter Sunday. This is a worship service at 2nd & Selden. And we need your help.

We will sing songs of worship to our resurrected savior.
We will hear a short Easter message.
We will share communion.
We will share a light lunch.

We need help on Easter Sunday, but we also need help getting ready in the days before. If you’d like to be a part, please call: (313) 444-0463.

For more information, join the event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/241288699301917

— We need chairs. Bring your folding chairs, your lawn chairs and your dining room chairs.
— Lunch will be ham and cheese sandwiches and bottles of water.
— Please don’t bring extra food than that. The focus will be easy to distract from celebrating the resurrection of Christ. And we don’t want that to happen.
— We need people to get together Saturday evening and make the sandwiches ahead of time.
— We need someone who will take pictures and video. Actually, we need a couple people.
— We will need people who will serve communion.
— We may need someone who can lead us in singing worship (waiting to hear back from someone now).